Saturday, March 01, 2008

The "C" Word

It's been a tough week, to say the least. Yesterday, the plastic surgeon removed the pressure bandages and slapped a bandaid on my nose, and described what he will likely have to do on Tuesday after the second tumor is excised from inside my nostril. The doctor asked me to remove my shirt, since he might spill some of my blood on it. I told him no.

Well, the office was cold!

I sort of took this whole thing lightly. I even joked with the plastic surgeon about giving me Heath Ledger's nose since, you know, he wasn't doing anything with it. In my history no one had cancer in my family, and disease was always something you "cured". God knows, I've faced down death before many times.

Cancer doesn't work like that. You can't cure it, you can only stop it from growing and taking you, bit by bit.

When I thought about my stupid little lesion and how friends of mine have battled "real cancers", like breast and ovarian or lung, I guess I assumed a basal cell carcinoma was small potatoes: you know, excise it, it's gone and you make sure you never get anymore. I wasn't afraid. I figured this was a step up from a root canal. I was waiting for the inevitable prostate cancer before I got scared.

Indeed, the surgery has a 99% success rate. I guess I know now what it's like to be in the one percent. This has shook my confidence a lot. I mean, here's the doctor, testing each slice as it comes off my nose, and finally clearing me after the third one. If it wasn't for the plastic surgeon noticing something was wrong, I would have been patched up with a nose full of cancer still.

I consider that to be luck: if the carcinoma had been even a millimeter away from the spot he was looking, he might have missed it too.

Your body is something that gives you diminishing returns as you get older. It becomes more and more useful to you until you reach a point when it starts to eat itself up in order to keep you on your headlong dash in to the brick wall of mortality. You have to work harder and harder to maintain it as you grow older, until finally one day you realize the effort isn't worth it anymore, that you can't work hard enough to stay in the kind of shape you want.

So you ratchet back your expectations, maybe I don't need to benchpress four hundred pounds: three hundred, no, two hundred will do. The stresses of daily living are enough to make the choice of ennui an easy one.

Ennui and hope. To look for the next snake oil, the next "miracle cure," the next fruitless waste of energy, when all this requires is work, and lots of it, and the acknowledgement that one can only do what one can do.

I've reached the age where I can say I have about as many days ahead of me as behind me, and I now head into this fearful autumn with just about all the tools I can muster. I likely won't be able to learn any "new tricks," old dog that I am. Time is neither my ally nor my friend. It is my signpost on a road that we all must travel, and it's telling me to make my mark before I have to.

I guess all this is why I fight so hard to keep my hopes up of a Clinton presidency, despite the fact that I am clearly in a shrinking number. I get the attraction of Barack Obama. Hell, I was Barack Obama...middle class kid growing up on an urban street, surrounded by all kinds of temptations and distractions, yet highly intelligent and skilled. It's precisely for this background I would never contemplate politics as a profession: too many deals done to survive, too many skeletons in my closet.

Good with words, too, which is how I know that words ARE meaningless, until you throw down and show you can back them up. I don't think Obama has done this, and the darling attention he has received doesn't seem to reflect this. He's the star quarterback for the high school football team that hasn't even taken the field to win a game yet. He can bullshit and bluff his way through a campaign alright, but when the chips are down, he's all "Bueller...Bueller...Bueller", or so his legislative record shows.

What's he done? Planted some flowers in a housing project for three years and called that a "career"? Hell, I planted carrots in the city's first urban garden in kindergarten. Elect me for world king!

What has he built? What monuments has he left in his wake? What fight has he fought where he's rolled up his sleeves, and gotten those perfectly manicured fingernails into the dirt?

Where's the blood on his shirt? Because if he thinks he can lead in a bipartisan fight by being cleaner than those he's fighting with, he's got a big big surprise ahead of him. People will test him. And test him. And there will be blood on his shirt, figuratively speaking, until he's shown he has the mettle to fight back harder (something his thin-skinned reactions thus far indicate he does not have) or he throws in the towel.

If he had cancer tomorrow, what would be left of him but a footnote to history of being the first serious minority candidate for President? We've had eight years of a career gross underachiever masquerading as a president. The unfortunate truth is that George Bush aspired to this mostly because it was his last shot at any kind of fame, which I suspect was in his head from the beginning (...with apologies to Stephen Colbert, before anyone accuses me of plagiarism): "Poppy was pres'dient, then so can I." It wasn't from any sense of "I can do this."

If Hillary died tomorrow of cancer, she'd leave behind a wealth of life and lives that she has touched. All her fights, all the dried blood on her blouse, speak of a woman who gets it and gets her hands dirty to fix things.

If my car broke down on the highway, I'd rather see Hillary pull up than Barack. Hillary would hand me a wrench. Barack, a cellphone.

I picture heaven as having a giant poker game, and if Hillary sat down at the table near me, I'd be very wary of her and count my chips. If Barack sat down, I'd be salivating, practically rubbing my hands with glee.

I think running a country in the face of an organized and disloyal opposition is a lot like that card game: you have to have the wherewithal to bluff a few times meaningfully, and every once in a while, take people at face value, all while protecting your cards and chips.

Too, I think Hillary gets that we don't have time to play nice anymore, until the other side gets that "nice" is the only way to play. Already, the Republicans are arming themselves. The Jonah Goldberg book was not the first shot across the bow at revisionist history, but it won't be the last and it may be the most important, despite our mocking of him here on the left. We can't possibly understand what effect this trope is having on the 24 percent who still support Bush and the maybe fifteen percent more that only need a small excuse to return to the fold. That's enough to rebuild a coalition on.

McCain is not out of the race, no matter whom he might face in November. He polls well against both Obama and Clinton, and is within the margin of error of winning against either of them. If you take the "Olbermann numbers" (MOE + Undecided), McCain could conceivably wipe the floor with the Democrats, and he has strength in territory that's normally considered safely blue, like California and the Northeast.

It won't take much to beat either candidate.

While it's true it's harder now to hurt Obama...after all, you cant really shoot down an empty suit that's flitting across the ceiling on a's also pathetically easy should they find even the slightest hint of scandal in his past that they can exploit.

The problem with being an empty suit is, once that suit is torn, you're exposed. Ask Mitt Romney.

Keep in mind that Clinton, Edwards, et al, have kept the gloves on in the primaries. They had to. The Republicans do not, and will not. They play to win and they play hard. The cocaine issue...well, let's put it this way: the sense I get is that Hillary could have gone after that a lot harder, that she had something in the tank to bring out. After all, I can't imagine that people like Al Gore in 1992 didn't know about the Paula Jones case in the primaries, but let the Gennifer Flowers case stand in lieu of it, figuring Americans would get it.

This is what I find so distressing about this election cycle: here, you have arguably the best qualified human being on the planet to be President, someone with blood on her blouse, being short-shrifted by an awful lot of people who are looking to Obama for hope, and not much else, and who knows what kind of backlash there will be once he's had to stand the grueling torture of the methodical 99% effective surgery of a general election campaign.

Imagine the psychology of these young folks if Obama, like McGovern before him, gets tangled up in mental health issues while he's supposed to b focusing on the campaign, as McCain pulls away in the polls. People don't like to be afraid, and if they are afraid, they'll turn to someone who they can be assured will protect them. If the Republicans can successfully paint Obama in this same fashion they painted that other anti-war candidate, it will be decades before Democrats will win the White House again.

Maybe under Chelsea Clinton...

Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Music Blogging

Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall

Takes me back to the days when I could get last week!

Friday Kitten Blogging

Diss l'il bassid es...

...annoyin me!

Hem clime op to mah winnow and waives hem's l'il booshy tale at me an I get all angery...Luk at des l'il bassid, mah peepz!

Because, You Know, It's All About Meme...

It is Leap Day, and as such, Sadie Hawkins Day, which means every man on earth is finding a deep dark bar to hide in.

Me, I'll be at the plastic surgeon's, assessing the damage to my face and the next round of surgical procedures.

By the way, does anyone know what that crap is they put on your face when they do surgery that takes four days to dry up and flake off, thus making you rhink you've been attacked by a face-eating zombie?

Anyway, I've been meme'd again...Thanks, MissC! Now I get to insult and annoy a whole new crop of people. Miss Cellania has rated this blog "E" for Excellent.

In keeping with the tradition, I am passing along this award to the ten blogs that I could not possibly live my week without, which of course includes MissC...


Lance Mannion (payback's a bitch!)

Sadly, No!


Whiskey Fire

The Guys from Area 51 (especially Agitprop)

The Reaction

Jon Swift


Nobody Asked Me, But....

1) Should Matt "The Eggman" Drudge be investigated, tried and convicted of treason? Didn't he reveal information that a sovereign nation engaged as an ally in a battle the United States declared was trying to keep guarded?

2) Or does it really matter, since Afghanistan is a lost cause, according to some? Is that true, Senator O-"Head of the Subcommittee Overseeing US Involvement With NATO Operations In Afghanistan"-bama?

3) Why does this man have a movie career? I've always believed it was tragically hip to think Will Ferrell was cool, but the more movies he makes and makes guest appearances in, the more I realize he's basically a tool who is terribly unfunny and who has created an enormous cognitive dissonance in his fans, who desperately try to justify their fandom.

4) Much, I suspect, like Obombers are doing.

5) Speaking of which, do you get the sense there's a bimbo eruption in our future, whether real or manufactured?

6) After all, he wouldn't be the first charismatic young man to entice a population only to let them down badly.

7) This is such a non-issue, I'm surprised they are bothering. If karl Rove couldn't make it stick in 2000, why would anyone think the Democrats could in 2008?

8) You'd think this is good news for the economy, but not so much. Inflation created a nice little bump in consumer spending and incomes in January, and now dial in the fact that consumer incomes have lagged well-behind economic growth for the past seven years, and you have a volatile mix of conditions for inflation to destroy the nation.

9) I would, but I've got too much to do!

10) While you've been debating Obama v. Clinton, look at what's happening at the gas pump...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Please Turn Your Books To Page 123

I've been meme'd.

I feel...dirty, but it wouldn't be the first time I've been forcibly memed from behind while I was incapcitated.

The meme, as per Lance Mannion, works as follows:

• look up page 123 in the nearest book
• look for the fifth sentence
• then post the three sentences that follow that fifth sentence on page 123.
While I was tempted to take the easy way out and claim that my review copy of The Pet Goat was the nearest book, sadly, it was my misfortune to have the Pulitzer Prize winning "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy in hand.

Note to self: drop everything while blogging.

P. 123, sixth, seventh and eighth sentences:

He held it to the light. A single bit of sediment coiling in the jar on some slow hydraulic axis. He tipped the jar and drank and he drank slowly but still he drank nearly the whole jar.

- 30 -

So now it is my solmen, spam-honored duty to pay it forward.

I call forth the following bloggers:

Miss Cellania!

Droudy! (n00bs aren't exempt)


Instaputz! (only for inflicting Jonah's galleys on me....yuck!)

Hmmmmmmm...and the father of Blogtopia...Skippy!!

Some Flaws In The Ointment

It concerns me greatly that, while Barack Obama continues to whistle past the graveyard of his own inexperience, his opponents (Senators McCain and Clinton) are scoring deeply disturbing hits at his expense.

First up, Hillary:
At a late-night rally in Burlpe, she noted that Mr. Obama served as chairman of a subcommittee responsible for Europe and NATO and that the United States has had difficulty in getting NATO to help out in Afghanistan. “My opponent, when he talks about his foreign policy experience, he includes his chairmanship of this subcommittee,” she said.
Referring to Tuesday night’s debate, she added: “And what you learned last night is, he’s never held a substantive hearing or meeting to look at what is going on in NATO, to take a hard look at what’s happening in Europe. And in fact, the reason he hasn’t, as he said, is he got the assignment when he started running for president. Well, I don’t think that’s an adequate excuse.”
She's right: it's not. To suggest that his own ambition and Presidential plans supersede any quantitative and substantive discussion of NATO and Europe's role in hunting down what he himself admits is a grave danger to American interests, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the Taliban support it receives (in Tuesday's debate, he scored a couple of points by noting the debacle in Iraq came at the expense of hunting down Osama Bin Laden at al) is at once foolish and foolhardy. He could have held at least one meeting in the past six months, particularly during lags in the campaign, at which he could have dressed up a pig and put some make up on it and called it a discussion.

He couldn't even do that, tragically. Which brings us to the long distance encounter with John:
During the recent Democratic debate, John M. Broder and Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times write, “Mr. Obama had said in response to a hypothetical question that although he intended to withdraw American forces as rapidly as possible, he reserved the right to send troops back in ‘if Al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq.’ ”
Mr. McCain pounced on the remark. “I have some news,” he said at a town-hall-style meeting in Tyler, Tex. “Al Qaeda is in Iraq. It’s called ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq.’ My friends, if we left, they wouldn’t be establishing a base. They’d be taking a country, and I’m not going to allow that to happen.”
His debate answer was flippant and naive, to say the least, and his quick stab at clearing the air was even dumber:
Mr. Obama, campaigning in Columbus, Ohio, responded soon after. “I have some news for John McCain,” Mr. Obama said at a large rally at Ohio State University. “There was no such thing as Al Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq.”
True enough, Senator, but guess what?

They Are There Now!

As you so artfully described it on Tuesday night in defending your current votes "yes" on funding the Iraq invasion (I may have been under anesthesia, but damn, even I saw an opening here), "Once we had driven the bus into the ditch, there were only so many ways we could get out."

You can't have it both ways, Barack: either you go hunt down Al Qaeda in Afghanistan while preventing its expansion in Iraq-- it exists, it is there and while it may be quiet now, it has established territory-- or you admit you have no clue as to how to engage in a comprehensive national security policy that defends our interests while assisting Iraqis in recovering from what everyone except John McCain has called a blunder, yourself included.

And stop your whining about this!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


So...they found another malignancy...


So the tumor they discovered yesterday is just an extension of the one they originally spotted. Apparently, the tech or the surgeon misread one of the "slices" they cut during the microsurgery, and rather than go deeper and wider, they merely went wider.

I now have a whole thru my entire nostril covered by a flap of skin the size of a quarter that has been cut off my thigh. I have more surgery next week, this time hopefully to get the entire frikkin' carcinoma.

I'm not looking forward to this

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I will be offline for the rest of the day, most likely. Consider this an open thread.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Waste Of Air

There were probably a million stories that Tim Russert could have featured on Meet The Press yesterday. This probably should not have been one of them:
WASHINGTON -- Consumer activist Ralph Nader launched an independent campaign for the White House on Sunday, criticizing the Republican and Democratic candidates for not addressing issues "that are supported by a majority of the American people."

"You go from Iraq to Palestine/Israel, from Enron to Wall Street, from Katrina to the bungling of the Bush administration, to the complicity of the Democrats in not stopping him on the war, stopping him on the tax cuts, getting a decent energy bill through," he told NBC's "Meet the Press," and you have to ask yourself, as a citizen: Should we elaborate the issues that the two [parties] are not talking about?"

This campaign is Nader's fifth try for the presidency. He ran limited races as a write-in candidate in 1992 and as the Green Party nominee in 1996. His greatest success came in 2000, again as the Green Party candidate, when he won more than 2.8 million votes; four years ago, as an independent, he got 465,650 votes out of 122 million cast.
Anybody remember Harold Stassen?

The less said about this, the better. Among the myriad reasons we're in the mess we're in right now, Ralph Nader's candidacy in 2000 has to be right at the top of the list, along with Gore's inability to carry even his home congressional district (and by extension, the state of Tennessee).

The only thing Nader seems to be running is from his reputation as a tough-minded effective advocate. Running from, as well as ruining. People won't remember his effective work for consumer protections. They'll remember him as the useful idiot who changed the course of this country for the far worse, ushering in a regime that, rather than piss people off enough to work for change, cowed them and bullied the American citizenry into sheepdom.

Thanks, Ralph: you've set back the progressive cause, in particular the protection of the average American from the fascistic collaborations of corporations and government, for centuries! Nice. Really nice. Where we once had off-the-books influence peddling and legislative agendas, things we as a people could fight, we now have direct interventions by the entities with money into our lives, our health, and now our sacred fortunes.

Tell me, you honestly think this nation is better off today than it was eight years ago, when you stuck your nose into it the first real time?

I'd imagine even a bloated egoist such as yourself would have to, however grudgingly, admit no.

And maybe that's the question you need to ask yourself before you ramp up to speed on this campaign.

You scored less than 3% of the popular vote in 2000. You scored less than half a percent in 2004.

If there is a God, you'll owe the American voting process votes when the dust settles this time around.

Go away. Seriously.